Monday, April 28, 2014

How to Get the Best Prices on Airfare

Remember the days when we could get one-way fares on Southwest and Jetblue for like $59 and $64?? Man, it was nice for a family of four to fly for only like $500!!! I wish I had a magic wand that would make airfare prices drop. Seriously...that might be my super power if I could have one. Or maybe just the power to fly! The one part of trip planning that stresses me out more than anything else is buying airfare.

These days, I really think there is no surefire way to get cheap airfare. I've read articles about waiting 50 to 75 days before your trip, cause thats when airfare is cheapest, or at 3 a.m on a Wednesday morning. Not in my experience!!! Maybe on major airlines. But I really don't know. I stopped flying major airlines years ago when they decided to charge insane amounts of money to check suitcases. And the prices were more than the discount airlines! With crappy flight schedules. Forget about a direct flight!! Sorry. It just makes no sense to me. If you can get a good deal on a major airline and if you can get away with only taking a tiny suitcase as a carry on, more power to ya. But I can't. And I've yet to find a real deal on a major airline.

So here's what I do.

Most of the trips we take these days are to Disney World. But even if you aren't always flying to the same designation, as soon as you know where you're going, or even when you have the inkling of where you might be going, start watching fare prices. Southwest and Jetblue may not have released their fare schedule yet, but thats okay. Put in fake dates with the same days of the week you are thinking of going. See what it costs. See what the other days of the week cost. Make mental notes, or real notes. You need to know what normal prices are and what cheap prices are. Check when there's fare sales and see what is offered out of your home airport. (my home airport rarely has anything decent) Airfare fluctuates constantly. You need to know what a good price is so when your trip plans are set, you can jump on good airfare when you find it.

If you plan trip far in advance like me, then you usually have plenty of time before SW and JB open their fare schedules. Find out EXACTLY what date they will open. Be on your computer as soon as they open. Check the fares and if they are good, book immediately. Don't wait. I've seen SW change fares within hours after releasing them. And in my experience, they RARELY go back to what they were the day they were released. And even more rare that they go below. Just as an example. I booked RT air on SW for our upcoming WDW trip for $123 each way. Within days, the flight down was $240 and the flight home was $191. I just checked today and the flight home was $196, the flight home, $240. Point is, they will fluctuate constantly, but the chances of it going back to what it was are rare. In my experience ;) It may be different for others. And other airports.

Day of the week is a huge factor too. If you plan on flying Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, you just have to expect higher fares. Those are the popular days to fly. If you fly Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, it's usually cheapest.

And don't be afraid to book a one one flight if it's a great price. And book the return flight on a different airline. These days everything is priced out per way, so its not cheaper to buy a RT ticket rather than 2 one-way flights. Last year we flew SW to LAX and Jetblue home.

So there it is! It's what's worked for me. No magic formula...just good old fashioned research.

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